November 01, 2023

This one dog quirk makes ear infections more likely

This one dog quirk makes ear infections more likely
Dr. Chris Brown


If your dog was looking for the perfect excuse for not coming back to you in the park, this might just be it. Blocked ears. But quite seriously, a bizarre feature in every dog’s anatomy does actually make blockages and infections more likely...

Those ears might just be one of their most adorable features. And with short upright ears, long floppy ones and everything fluffy in-between, they’re also one of the most variable. But despite how they look on the outside, there’s one feature they all have in common. Their entirely odd ear canal.

You see, unlike our short straight ear canal that lets your (human) doctor look straight into your ear drum, a dog (and cat’s) ear canal is L-shaped. Yep, it has a nearly 90 degree bend in it. Like the below…



The result?

Just like a drainage down-pipe, water flows in but then can’t get out.

The same goes for dirt and any gunky wax build-up. It’s all trapped in the base of the ear together.

Then this happens…

1. Wax, dirt and moisture become the perfect all-you-can-eat buffet for your dog’s own bacteria and yeast to feed on.

2. A furry ear flap then serves as a lid on this warm broth. Trapping the heat and humidity. Meaning the accumulated gunk can brew into a painful and smelly ear infection.

And all because of that highly original ear canal.

It’s why vets like me are always banging on about keeping that deeper part of their ears clean and dry.

Especially if your dog has lots of wax, floppy ears, swims, shakes their head a lot or has licky and scratchy skin. That’s a lot of the furry family. It’s also why I spent so long developing my gentle Ear De-Gunker. It’s a game-changer for keeping ears out of trouble…


The Ear De-Gunker
The Ear De-Gunker

Ok. So why the L-shaped ear canal then?

It does seem to defy all logic.
The reason? It comes back to their ancestor’s hunting days. Not only did it keep sharp grasses, branches and even claws from perforating the ear drum, the 90 degree bend actually acts like your dog’s noise cancelling headphones. Filtering out the unnecessary low frequency noise and just letting the important high frequency sounds their prey make through. Wild huh!

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